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Miles Davis

Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess

UPC: 8718469532070

Format: LP

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Of all Gil Evans' orchestral scores for soulmate Miles Davis, PORGY AND BESS is his richest and most ambitious--a watershed of modern jazz harmony which served to secure Davis' pop star stature and define his brooding mystique. Inevitably, even non-jazz listeners own a copy of PORGY AND BESS or SKETCHES OF SPAIN.
Like MILES AHEAD, Evans' band on PORGY AND BESS de-emphasized the traditional reed section in favor of a tuba, three French horns, two flutes and two saxophones. The resulting chords and overtones are dark, alluring and mysterious. Thus the opening brass-cymbal bluster of "The Buzzard Song" gives way to a mid-eastern carpet of flutes and deep brass as Davis' poignant trumpet speaks in split tones and yearning cadences, bursting with blues feeling; a tuba soon picks up the theme as muted trumpets are followed by tolling trombone/French horn chords.
Each of the thirteen sections contrast lush instrumental details with intimate trumpet arias (which suggest the profound influence of Billie Holiday, particularly over the eerie textures of "I Loves You Porgy"). Evans' ability to orchestrate hypnotic call and response patterns with Davis, and his ability to layer multiple textures at contrasting tempos makes for several memorable moments: Philly Joe's dancing breaks and exchanges with Miles on "Gone," the church-like amens of "Gone, Gone, Gone," the counter-melodies on a lightly swinging "Summertime," Miles' sustained lyricism (and Evans' tart blue chordal rejoinders) on "Prayer," the brash after-hours swagger of "It Ain't Necessarily So," and the contrasting folkish themes of "Here Come De Honey Man." Timeless music.